2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen vs. 2019 Nissan Kicks

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Golf SportWagen has standard whiplash protection, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the whiplash protection system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Kicks doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Golf SportWagen has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Kicks doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The Golf SportWagen S 4MOTION has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Kicks doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Volkswagen Golf SportWagen has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Kicks doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The Golf SportWagen SE’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Kicks doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Golf SportWagen SE has standard Car-Net, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Kicks doesn’t offer a GPS response system, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Golf SportWagen and the Kicks have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH, results indicate that the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is safer than the Nissan Kicks:

Golf

Kicks

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

The Golf SportWagen comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The Kicks’ 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 3 years and 36,000 miles sooner.

The Golf SportWagen’s corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the Kicks’ (10 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 6 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.

Engine

The Golf SportWagen’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. produces 25 more horsepower (147 vs. 122) and 70 lbs.-ft. more torque (184 vs. 114) than the Kicks’ 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. The Golf SportWagen S 4MOTION’s optional 1.8 turbo 4 cyl. produces 46 more horsepower (168 vs. 122) and 85 lbs.-ft. more torque (199 vs. 114) than the Kicks’ 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Golf SportWagen 4MOTION is faster than the Nissan Kicks (automatics tested):

Golf

Kicks

Zero to 60 MPH

7 sec

9.7 sec

Quarter Mile

15.5 sec

17.5 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

The Golf SportWagen FWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Kicks (13.2 vs. 10.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Golf SportWagen 4Motion’s standard fuel tank has 3.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the Kicks (14.5 vs. 10.8 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Golf SportWagen’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Kicks:

Golf

Kicks

Front Rotors

11.3 inches

10.16 inches

Rear Rotors

10.7 inches

8” drums

The Volkswagen Golf SportWagen has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the Kicks. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

The Golf SportWagen stops much shorter than the Kicks:

Golf

Kicks

70 to 0 MPH

166 feet

190 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

133 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Golf SportWagen SE’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Kicks (225/45R17 vs. 205/60R16).

The Golf SportWagen SE’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Kicks SV/SR’s 55 series tires.

The Volkswagen Golf SportWagen’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Nissan Kicks only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Nissan Kicks has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Golf SportWagen is 1.2 inches wider in the front than on the Kicks.

The Golf SportWagen’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (56.9% to 43.1%) than the Kicks’ (60.8% to 39.2%). This gives the Golf SportWagen more stable handling and braking.

The Golf SportWagen 4Motion handles at .84 G’s, while the Kicks SR pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Golf SportWagen S executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.9 seconds quicker than the Kicks SR (27.3 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 29.2 seconds @ .55 average G’s).

Chassis

The design of the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen amounts to more than styling. The Golf SportWagen has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .31 Cd. That is lower than the Kicks (.334) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Golf SportWagen get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The Golf SportWagen has 2.9 inches more front shoulder room, .1 inches more rear headroom, 2.4 inches more rear legroom and .7 inches more rear shoulder room than the Kicks.

Cargo Capacity

The Golf SportWagen has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Kicks with its rear seat up (30.4 vs. 25.3 cubic feet). The Golf SportWagen has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Kicks with its rear seat folded (66.5 vs. 32.3 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

The Golf SportWagen uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Kicks uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the Golf SportWagen and the Kicks have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Golf SportWagen is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Kicks prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Golf SportWagen’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Kicks’ rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the Golf SportWagen the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can also lower the windows the same way. The driver of the Kicks can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Golf SportWagen’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Kicks’ manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Golf SportWagen SE detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Kicks doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Golf SportWagen SE has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Kicks doesn’t offer cornering lights. The Golf SportWagen SE also has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

The Golf SportWagen has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Kicks doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

Both the Golf SportWagen and the Kicks offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Golf SportWagen has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Kicks SV/SR doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

With standard voice command, the Golf SportWagen offers the driver hands free control of the radio and the navigation computer by simply speaking. The Kicks doesn’t offer a voice control system.

The Golf SportWagen SE has a 115-volt a/c outlet in the cargo area, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Kicks doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

The Volkswagen Golf comes in four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Nissan Kicks isn’t available as a four door.

Recommendations

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Golf SportWagen second among compact cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Kicks isn’t in the top three.

The Golf was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The Kicks has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the Golf as their 2015 Car of the Year. The Kicks has never been chosen.

The Volkswagen Golf/GTI outsold the Nissan Kicks by 81% during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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